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Sen. Ben Cardin Touts Obama Environmental Policies At Sarasota Stop

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin stopped at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota to campaign for President Barack Obama, touting the president's environmental policies on the Everglades and Gulf of Mexico.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin stopped at Sarasota's Wednesday afternoon as part of a President Barack Obama campaign stop highlighting environmental policies.

Cardin met with several top Florida environmental leaders behind closed doors at Mote Marine before speaking to the press about Obama's plan to preserve the Everglades and protect the Gulf of Mexico.

Mote actually partners with the National Aquarium, based in Baltimore, to assess damage from oil spills, including the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, Cardin explained.

"We very much appreciate this collaboration between two great, world-class institutions," Cardin said. "Their partnerships have made both institutions stronger, and we really do applaud their work on that."

But the focus was on Obama's policy that Cardin supports to protect the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico, keying in that Obama's approach is science-based and using "best science."

"President Obama believes we should be guided by the best science and do our environment commitments based on what best science tells us," Cardin said. "If we do it the right way, then we'll create more jobs, safe jobs, to keep people healthy. That's what has guided his administration."

Cardin claims that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's support of the budget of his runningmate, Congressman Paul Ryan (Wis.—R) "would have completely decimated the Environmental Protection Agency and its ability to enforce clean water and clean air standards."

Drilling would "jeopardize our environmentally pristine lands" Cardin added.

Science practices now place limits on phosphorous pollution and use a monitoring system that allows scientists to track research and confirm that the Everglades is being preserved and restored, according to the campaign.

Being from Maryland, Cardin has had to do work to see what policies and programs could protect the Chesapeake Bay, which is work "a trillion dollars" to the Chesapeake Bay watershed economy, he said.

The roundtable discussed how parts of the 30-year-old Chesapeake Bay Program can be relevant and used in the Everglades, Cardin told Patch.

"We both have a nutrient problem with too much nutrients being discharged into the Everglades and into the Chesapeake Bay," Cardin said. 

The Chesapeake Bay Program uses partnerships between local, state and federal governments, Cardin explained, and private sector.

"You have to have all the stakeholders together — it has to be a fair program that is guided by the best scientific information as to what you can do to improve the quality," he said. "Science tells us we have to reduce the amount of nutrients. We have to deal with phosphorus emissions. How do we deal with that? We need cleaner water coming into the Everglades?"

That has to be done through a balance to protect the economic industries in the region while adding jobs, he said.

"The Everglades is worth a huge amount to the economy of this region, but it's only going to be able to be sustained and improved its environmental qualities," Cardin said. Cardin is also chair of the Senate's Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Patch reached out to the Romney campaign, but a spokesman has not returned a request for comment.

Here's an Associated Press analysis of Romney's stance on environmental policy:

"Proposes to remove carbon dioxide from list of pollutants controlled by Clean Air Act and amend clean water and air laws to ensure the cost of complying with regulations is balanced against environmental benefit. Says cap and trade would "rocket energy prices."

Blames high gas prices on Obama's decisions to limit oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and on overzealous regulation."

also posted an analysis of where Ryan stands on the environment:

"Ryan, by all accounts, is an “avid outdoorsman” and he has focused his environmental legislative efforts in the Wisconsin region. He vigorously supports Congress’s Asian Carp effort as well as the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. He supported removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list; the gray wolf population has been increasing in numbers, and many Wisconsin farmers have reported losing livestock to gray wolf attacks.  He is a member of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus."

Nonprofit OnTheIssues.org also lists Ryan's stances, including voting to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and voted against limits on carbon dioxide limit enforcement.

Frank Jackalone, organizing manager of Sierra Club Florida said the same case could be made for Sarasota's spot on the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Gulf of Mexico is also threatened by polluted water," he said. "We've had massive red tides over the past. It's very encouraging the Obama administration has move forward to try to protect our water bodies."

"We have a lot in common with the Chesapeake Bay," he added.

The administration placing $1.4 billion to restore the Everglades and its watershed along with establishing the Picayune Strand Restoration Project in western Collier County. That project is a federally funded construction program that aims to restore 85 square miles that serve as a sanctuary for native Florida plants and wildlife.

The Obama campaign claims that Everglades restoration "will have an incremental impact on employment of about 442,664 additional workers over 50 years."

"If we don't deal with our beaches here in Sarasota or deal with the Everglades, the damage that's caused takes generations to fix," Cardin told Patch. "So we want to make sure that we are mindful that we have a responsibility to future generations to restore the Everglades, to protect the Gulf of Mexico, and I'm just proud that President Obama has understood that."

Editor's Note: in Maryland that is distributed throughout Maryland Patch sites. If you're a politician that would like to start a blog on Patch, please contact your local Patch editor.

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